tanto cuore deck building game poster

Essen Spiel 2016 – Day Three

Day three was really a big blur. Well it was crowded…actually crowded is an understatement. It was more like trying to squeeze an elephant as garnish in a B52 shot.

The above video from monkey butt game clearly illustrates my point.

The fact that it was going to be crowded dawned on me the moment I set foot in the subway. There was cue to get in a cue to get to the actual lane the train was leaving from. When you were in the lane you also had to que in a que that led up to a que to board the train. It took at least a good hours wait, before I managed to place myself on the about to board the train position.

crowds flock to Essen Spiel
The crowds flock to Essen Spiel.

Also driven by an inexplicable impulse I decided to leave all of my shopping for my last day in Essen, (this was a huge mistake, please dear reader avoid making the same choice at all costs). Saturday was so overwhelmingly busy that I found it impossible to locate any of the games that tickled my fancy the previous days but the most important thing is that I could not for the love of God locate the game I had singled out for my daughter.

Word of parenting advise: If your three year old asks: -Daddy did you buy me a game?
Never ever under no circumstance reply yes to that question, unless you have the actual item in your actual possession.

After a lot of effort, I managed to find the games I had singled out for my dear offspring, thus sporting a smile best befitting a man who’s just escaped the guillotine, I proceeded with my favorite pastime of generally loitering around and buying games for me and my friends.

I bought a couple of Lovecraftian coins from the excellent Drawlab entertainment and was chuffed to find out that CIV6 is coming out…Besides the actual games on display I was also amazed to see quite a lot of really cool illustrators showcasing their talents and made a note of Bjorn Barends whose work I really liked.

Also at the same time I made a mental note to kill the triangle from our logo…..Do you see a triangle in our logo?…If you do, it is only because I haven’t killed it yet! Triangle = mystical occult connotations stuff blah blah…NO…out you go triangle…Hello circle-rectangle or something else…Boss can I kill the triangle? I don’t know why I did the triangle in the first place…I must surely have been drunk.
[update: The boss likes the triangle…The triangle stays…apparently I am even lower in the chain of command than I thought.]

I also bought this really cool war game that looks like a cross between RISK and CIVILIZATION. It is called Leaders and is made by Rudy games, (check it out here). It combines a board game with an app to enrich the gaming experience and I cant wait to get home to give it a spin.

I also got my hands on Zmans pandemic: reign of cthulhu, (here ).
Cthulhu is cool…Zman is cool…me wanna play!

I was also really impressed by all the people going around in character. We had pirates, orcs, full on goths, warriors, puppies and even Army of Lovers type nurses pushing around steampunk dudes, (well maybe not the puppy dude…I don’t know…no offense to anyone but not my thing).

Train of thought makes handbrake stop at the Tanto Cuore stand… A manga inspired deck building game…The game is beautifully illustrated. They sell it in character. Verdict: WIN-WIN!

Also more words of advise…bring hard cash as most sellers won’t accept credit cards. I still beat my head against the wall for not being able to buy this drug smuggling game I came across…I looked as if the god of cool had materialized in the form of a boardgame. I must remember who the publishers are and how the game is called.
[edit..It is called DEAL: The American Dream, read about it here.. ].

Deer Lord party game logo
Deer Lord…The game

And also must not forget to mention DeerLord , although not my thing in terms of game type, (party game), I must give it to them…they had the graphic design really pinned down..I wouldn’t mind buying the game, even if it was only to decorate my living room.

Well that was it for my first year…I managed not to get too lost on the German rail system, (I have a habit of doing that with most countries rail systems), and be part of a spectacular eye opening event…See you next year Essen.

b movie themed game poster

Essen Spiel 2016 – Day Two

Well day two was my business day…I made loads of meetings and got to know a lot of friendly people from the games world, but fear not I will not bore you with anymore details from that, but I just wanted to say that I felt a great sense of community and camaraderie amongst gamers and game publishers alike, (even to a complete noob like myself).

Essen Spiel main lobby
The Essen Messe main entrance.

Actually another thing that took me by surprise was the really wide international representation on display at Essen. I was happy to see a lot of Mediterranean block publishers, (Spanish Greek and Italians) and the was a strong presence from Poland and Czech, especially when it came to manufacturing. As was expected a stong UK / Germany representation was evident, as both countries have a very strong gaming tradition, something which brings us to the Asians…..

manga poster
Yes..We like manga.

Their games are completely utterly and definitely based in a universe far out of this world. Be it for use of technology, (some company had this hologram thing going down), or be it for game concept they are definitely truly far out. I mean I was really really left with scratching the back of my head in bewilderment when I was faced with a game called SAN (from UBO). In it you are supposed to build mountains, yes mountains but not just any mountains….they have to be ”…mountains that look like you”. The game had nothing fancy just a very zen like board and some well wooden mountain bits…I bet an arm and a leg that no person in the western hemisphere, (even those of us with ample access to mind altering substances), would have thought of anything like that.

Moving on to more down to earth things and remembering that as a teenager I grew up an a steady diet of Bathory and Celtic Frost I can’t help but admit to being a sucker for all things LARP. Swords? Yes Please….Armour? Most certainly….Priests Robe?….Oh yes…But wait I am chaotic Evil, can I steal it from you and run away in the forest?…

As you can imagine I ran into the wonderful MYTHOLONS stand and I did spend quite a lot of time there vowing to return tomorrow, (my designated buy stuff day).


boardgames played at essen spiel

Essen Spiel 2016 – Day One

An Essen virgins tale.

I arrived in Dusseldorf airport having had a generous 2 hour shuteye and with one thing evident…the horribly erroneous selection of shoes and clothes I had made whilst packing. On a display of mental brilliance I had chosen to land on a quite freezing Deutschland sporting a mere t-shirt and a really cool but in serious need of breaking in, shiny new pair of shoes.  Congratulating myself on my snazzy dress sense and being introduced to my new friend the angry painful mr blister on right foot, I begun to fondly ponder the 3 days of loads of walking that lay ahead of me, whilst having an astounding resemblance to an icecube, due to the high level of cold protection my t-shirt was providing.

U11 subway to Essen Messe.
The pink tinted U11 subway to Essen Messe.

Those minor setbacks aside, I opted not to go anywhere near the hotel for fear of falling into a deathlike slumber and brave it, out by trying to navigate the German Rail system straight to Messe.

An hour later and after making a quick mental note to congratulate myself on being able to read the railway timetable and also board the correct train, I made a victorious arrival at Messe looking like a homeless person with a limp and in serious need of some sleep.I quickly ventured indoors driven by part curiosity, (remember it is my first time here), part self preservation, (outside cold – inside warm) and than it hit me….wow it is huge and full of a gazillion different games….

Essen Spiel game hall
Yes people do play games during the Essen Spiel.
People dressed as manga playing a balancing board game.
Some balancing game, obviously popular with room service.

I spent some time in the front entrance where they hold the smaller age group games, (I really must buy something for my daughter) and had a general walkaround to get a better feel for the place..I stumbled into some really cool metal dice that might go well with our game and some really impressive, but really out of budget gemstone dice.




I had a chat up with a polish manufacturer but lack of sleep made communication a bit difficult so I decided to do my Silent Bob routine for the rest of the day.

Silent Bob
This is Silent Bob..If you haven’t seen clerks please do! Trust me it’s good for you. Read about clerks here and the image is from here.

I was very very impressed with a war combat game that mixed classic board game with an app, (a combined game they called it), and made a mental note to invest on it later on.

At about 03:00 I had a stop to grab some currywurst which along with the blister and the freezing cold brought back fond memories of my last trip to Berlin. {Yes acute reader I always travel with wrong shoes light clothes and eat junk.}

Heading back to the hotel took me about an hour, but when I got there I was utterly gobsmacked…those last minute booking things really do pay off….I have never been to a more luxurious hotel in my life….I proceeded to passing out on the stuffed from something expensive and really fluffy bed whilst reminding myself not to get thirsty because I can’t really afford to buy water in this place…..